Earlier today, a fellow administrator introduced me to the idea of “wicked problems.” If you haven’t heard of wicked problems, I’m sure a few may pop into your mind as soon as you read about it:
“Wicked problem” is a phrase originally used in social planning to describe a problem that is difficult or impossible to solve because of incomplete, contradictory, and changing requirements that are often difficult to recognize. The term ‘wicked’ is used, not in the sense of evil but rather its resistance to resolution. Moreover, because of complex interdependencies, the effort to solve one aspect of a wicked problem may reveal or create other problems. Source: Wikipedia
I found this sentence below particularly illustrative of a “wicked problem:”
A problem whose solution requires a great number of people to change their mindsets and behavior is likely to be a wicked problem.
There’s also a whole book–available FREE for reading online–with that title, Wicked Problems: Problems Worth Solving. You know, reflecting on that second quote above, I can certainly see that technology is rife with wicked problems. There are many mindsets and behaviors–which I call workflows these days–to change as we encourage others to embrace technology.
…the ability to transform resistance to support is an essential leadership quality. Source: Dan Rockwell, Leadership Freak Blog
Looking back over my career, I can certainly identify at least 3 “technology” related wicked problems:
- Technology and Curriculum Departments are in silos. One does what is best for each, like two toddlers playing in parallel.
- Curriculum Departments may or may not give lip service to transforming their instructional practices with technology, but then abandon it fairly quickly in the face of high stakes test prep.
- Technology networks are restricted based on conversations that are failures because they never happened…with the community, with administrators across the District, with other partners.
- You are accustomed to using traditional computers (e.g. laptops, desktops) but everyone is using Chromebook or tablets (e.g. iPad/Android)…if you’re not willing to change your workflow, it doesn’t matter how new the technology is, you’ll never get the benefit. How can we change our mindset about the technology?
Check out Miguel’s Workshop Materials online at http://mglearns.wikispaces.com